Welcome back to ESCBubble’s coverage for Eurovision 2021! Rehearsals at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam have kicked off this morning with the seven countries performing in the first half of Semi Final One set to have their 30 minute first rehearsals today.
If you are avoiding potential rehearsal spoilers then don’t read any further! Semi Final One will take place at 21.00 CET on Tuesday 18th May 2021 with sixteen countries competing for ten qualifying spots for the final.
The third country to take to the rehearsal stage is… Russia!
Perhaps one that we were very interested to see live, with Manizha confirming they were going to mix it up from the National Final performance. In theory, a lot of the performance is the same, the 4 backing singers in each corner surrounding her and Manizha working the camera with a very upbeat performance. She has a LOT of energy on stage, which really compliments the style of song.
The backdrop consists of a wall of empowered Russian women dancing and singing along, before their faces slot in to the words of the title song. Of course, the most memorable part of the performance comes in what Manizha is wearing at the start. She is quite literally a Russian doll, in a magnificent (and huge!) dress. Not sure if she’s on wheels or something, as there’s quite a bit of sudden movement at the start which looks really impressive. After the first verse she jumps out and is in her trademark red overalls. It does look a bit awkward just in the background on stage, blocking some camera angles, for the rest of the performance, but it’s worth it for the initial reveal and memorable transition. A lot more minamilist staging than we’ve seen from Russia in the past, but definitely enough to help her stand out.
She does very much perform the song to the women on the screens though, at one point even getting down on to the floor. It’s clear this song is dedicated to them.
Russia kept very quiet as to their plans for Eurovison 2021 over the past year, whilst other countries confirmed their returning acts or plans for national selection shows. Last year, Little Big were set to represent Russia on the Rotterdam stage with “Uno”, however in late February a return for the group was highlighted as being unlikely.
A few days later, Russian broadcaster Channel One confirmed that there would be a national final hosted at the start of March, the first time since 2012. Three acts were announced however following the performances there was a clear fan favourite in Manizha. Her song “Russian Woman” has come under fire for challenging stereotypes in conservative Russian views over gender inequality however is also an inspiration to many fans, with Manizha even becoming a Refugee goodwill ambassador for the United Nations short after her selection. We’re used to safe songs from Russia, however this year Manizha definitely bucks that trend – check out her national final performance here: